Ottawa


Somewhere between the tragedy and overwrought hand wringing there is truth and insight about and into what happened in Ottawa on Wednesday morning.

I do not presume to be able to deliver much on either score but having spent most of the 1990s working on Parliament Hill and knowing a little about the mechanics of government and being a parent and husband who would chew off an arm to keep my family safe . . . I have some opinions. As do you, no doubt.

Ottawa needs no platitudes from me. It was a wonderful city Tuesday and still is today. It has staggeringly beautiful natural gifts and stunning neo-gothic architecture in the Parliamentary precincts. Dozens and dozens of kilometres of bike paths along rivers and the canal. Chris was born there and Pad started to grow up there. Our memories of Ottawa are deeply personal and all good. We still have many, many very good friends in Ottawa.

Contrary to what many will tell you, Ottawa didn’t lose its innocence yesterday and neither did Canada. Memories are short in politics but soldiers with machine guns in armoured vehicles patrolled Ottawa in October 1970. People died in a siege on Turkey’s embassy in 1985. There was a bus hijacking on Parliament Hill in 1989. No, folks. Ottawa is well familiar with how the bad guys roll.

And three weeks out from Nov 11, let’s not kid ourselves that Ottawa or Canada lost its innocence yesterday. We lost our innocence at Vimy Ridge and Normandy and Dieppe and dozens of other foreign battlefields. Canada pulled on its big boy pants a long time ago. Continue reading

Zombies. Leafs. Plus ça change


About a year ago, intrigued by Pad’s devotion to the show, I started watching The Walking Dead.

It was already a popular phenomenon, but now it’s possibly the most watched network show in North America. What that says about us, I’m not sure.

The premise of the show: a southern US deputy is shot by a perp during a routine traffic arrest. When he wakes – weeks or months later, it’s not clear – the hospital is under siege. Mostly everyone is dead, there are dead cops and military types everywhere. He wanders out in the street looking for home and eventually finds the world divided into two camps: “normal” survivors like him, and literally, walking dead people who like to attack the survivors. Things go downhill from there. For years.

The walking dead types are non verbal, and have no interest in personal hygiene. They can smell out living people, seemed to like eating them, but they move slow.

It’s violent. It’s gruesome and gory. And now into its 6th season, the show is completely without any hope for the survivors. Imagine almost everyone in Toronto was a zombie, except maybe for a few thousand normal folks. Continue reading

Lawsuit Night in Canada


Hockey is a dirty, rough, tough sport. And that’s off the ice.

A class action lawsuit has been launched again the Canadian Hockey League – the umbrella association for all three major junior leagues in Canada – alleging it violated a long list of labour and workplace laws, including underpaying its athletes. The suit has a figure of $180 million attached to it but any reporter will tell you such numbers are meaningless, they are usually put on to make headlines.

The CHL denies the allegations. At the centre of the suit as the claim representative is Sam Berg, 18-year-old son of former Leaf journeyman Bill Berg. His story is an ugly one.

None of the allegations in the suit have been proven in court. Continue reading

Friday follies; more short snappers


I got some email from people after yesterday’s fun-filled glimpse into the abyss. No really. You’re welcome. Next week, a fun retrospective on The Plague is in the works.

In fairness to myself most people candidly admitted that it hadn’t occurred to them to frame the crisis the way I did. I just have a knack for applying my sunny disposition to life and creating doomsday scenarios out of thin air. It’s a gift.

But as if to illustrate my point about how random something like this can spread and the numbers of people who could potentially be exposed might be, there’s this.

News out of Dallas that a health care worker who handled Ebola samples from the patient in Dallas is . . . on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. The good news is that so far that person is showing no signs of infection and is isolated on the ship. Continue reading

Wakey, wakey


I’m not exactly a hysterical alarmist when it comes to natural and manmade disasters, plagues, pestilence and other nasty things sent along to test us humans.

Generally, a career in journalism is cut short if you answer a phone about a massive train crash and your first reaction is anything other than covering the story.

I’ve been watching the evolution of the Ebola story with more than passing interest for several months and today I’m here to tell you that if you are not also paying attention, it’s really time to start. It’s not time to panic. It’s time to pay attention.

I welcome all manner of jokes about The Walking Dead and more people dying annually from obesity, alcohol, car wrecks, whatever, than Ebola has collective claimed thus far.

If you decide to take those numbers as your umbrella, you are all wet already. Continue reading

Babies, dryer lint and other burning questions


The trouble with long weekends is the end of long weekends.

Not sure how to fix that, short of outright retiring and given the demands on the family bank accounts right now with two kids in university and neither one willing to generate revenue from selling non-vital organs for cash, Laura and I keep working.

But the weekend behind us was not without its pleasant moments. There’s truly nothing as relaxing as flaking out in front of the TV for two hours to watch a movie that you want to watch. (That was me yesterday afternoon watch The Monument Men, which I had never heard of before but featured George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman and Cate Blanchette. It won’t go down in history as a work of genius, but I liked it.)

And the weekend weather was terrific. I’ve always liked fall and this weekend was autumn writ large: cool, not cold. Blue skies. No rain.

Sadly that was perfect for packing away the summer outdoor furniture, draining the garden hoses, shutting off the exterior taps and generally battening down the hatches. November, need I remind you, is now just over two weeks away. Continue reading

The land of plenty


A short post for a long weekend. I missed boring you yesterday, so lucky you, or opps, sorry.

Thanksgiving is among my favourite holiday weekends. I love the autumn, which is probably the main reason. When I was a kid I found the return of school, or starting university, and all those things exciting and new. I like the clear skies and crisp air and the leaves, while they are still on the trees.

When the make their way to the ground, I like them less. As empty-nesters-in-training, we are looking forward to a noisy house this weekend, and some of us are looking more forward to it than others.

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Pad, of course, won’t be here. He has hockey. He has school. And even in the absence of hockey he would just get home from Halifax and it would be time to go back. Continue reading

The greatest game you can name


There was one of those rare alignments of other-worldly bodies in the heavens this week and it had nothing whatsoever to do with the lunar eclipse last night, an event I happily slept through.

Last night our minor peewee house league team played its first game of the season. And Literally 24 hours later the NHL season will open, including here in Toronto where the usual pointless optimism will mix with brooding self-defeat and the truth will live somewhere in between.

But there’s a sweet synchronicity in those two events. So today, all things hockey, sobering, soaring, and otherwise.

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Early on in hockey season I go back and watch a video that never fails to remind me what separates hockey from so many other sports. It’s not that I don’t respect other sports and athletes but I think Canada is a special place and hockey shows the best of what we like about ourselves. Continue reading

Recycling and other wildlife-sighting tips


Garbage day is Tuesday on our street and actually, it’s not so much Garbage Day as it is Recycling Day. Because the blue boxes and green bins go out every week whereas the garbage only gets picked up once every two weeks.

Why am I talking about recycling and garbage? Two reasons. First, I don’t really have a whole lot else to talk about and second, I have discovered that Tuesday is a good day of the week to figure out which of the people on our street are smart, which are lazy, and which are perhaps just occasionally unlucky.

More and more it seems to be less and less garbage/recycling day as much as Lay Out A Buffet for the Racoons, Squirrels and Seagulls Day.

We have a lot of wildlife on our street for a place that is basically urban residential. Saturday afternoon Laura and I were sitting in the family room around 430p and a round, well-fed looking racoon ambled past the patio doors, probably enroute from the apple tree in our yard to some other local buffet.

Racoons, you might know, like to party at night and they are wicked smart, which brings me back to that smart-not smart thing about Tuesday. The people who put out their garbage on Monday nights to save themselves the bother of dealing with it Tuesday morning had better be smarter than racoons.

And on our street a fair number of them are not. Continue reading

Lost blog = short snappers


I had already written close to 700 words when it went *zap* and off into the ether. I assure your every word was brilliant and each one was arranged in such a way as to make complete sense with the words that came before and after it.

And now it’s gone.

So rather than try to craft perfection again – and rather than miss a Monday entry, which is usually the biggest draw in my little world – I’m going to resort to short snappers.

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I’ll start with the local news first.

It was 18 years ago today that the day dawned sunny, cool and crisp. Tiger Woods won his first tournament as a PGA Tour pro. And people all over our end of Ottawa walked, hiked, cycled and enjoyed a spectacular fall day.

Except Laura. And me. She was busy delivering Chris to our family and I was busy pretending to be useful. Ice chips, anyone?

Every parent thinks their kids are talented and special and the difference in this case is that mine actually are. Continue reading

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